Charter Member: Eugene Park

by Courtney Chow

It may be hard to imagine Lighthouse when it started with only three families who were praying about planting a church in San Diego. While everyone can research the facts of the early Lighthouse years, Eugene Park, a charter member was there when the church started in 1998. Though he is currently studying Spanish in Argentina until July, he was still able to give The Beacon the low down on what LBC was like in the beginning.

Where were you shortly before coming to LBC and how did you decide to become a part of Lighthouse?

I grew up at a local Korean church in the San Diego area and was really involved in the leadership as well as the praise ministry within the Englishspeaking congregation. However, after serving there for years, I grew increasingly frustrated with the difficulties of serving in a ministry that was under the umbrella of another ministry. I was also concerned about some of the doctrinal stances the church took on some issues. So one day in February of 1998 I decided that it would be best for me to move on and find another church I could serve at. I continued to serve as well as training people to do the things I did over the next 6-7 months…my intention was to leave on the last Sunday of August.

My plan was to visit churches the last 4 months of the year and then commit to one and serve at that church starting in 1999. Because of my frustrations with working in a Korean church, my intention was to go to a non-ethnic church and those were the sort of churches I visited. I heard about LBC because a lot of my friends from the on-campus ministry we served in were planning on going to that church. I really didn’t want to go because I was just done with the Asian church scene but John Yi dragged me to the bible studies LBC had during the midweek. Over time I grew to love the teaching and the fellowship. And even though I was still attending other churches on Sundays, I was longing for the fellowship and teaching at the LBC bible study. By November my mind was made up, LBC was where I was going to serve. And so on December 6, 1998 LBC had its first official Sunday service (A popular trivia question!)

What was it like when the church first started?

When we first started we were meeting in the afternoons at a church located in a business park in Mira Mesa. They let us use one of the bigger rooms upstairs for our Sunday services. Min Chol and I were in charge of the sound team and had to setup all the equipment each Sunday. One of our “prized” possessions was a tape deck we used to record the sermons. Eugene Cho (who has since moved back up to L.A.) was our first praise leader for Sunday services. The Sunday praise team had quite a few members, including John Yi, Angela Kim, Jane Min (later to be Kim), and Patrick Cho and when they went up it seemed like half the church was up there. Our services typically had around 20 people which included the 5 or so kids. So it was definitely small and newcomers stuck out like a sore thumb.

What were some of the challenges in the beginning?

One of the more humorous challenges we had in the beginning was that the singles group was made up of all men, maybe around 8-10 of us. There were some ladies in college, but there were no women in the singles group. And it was said more than once (but not by me), “How are we ever going to get married?” Occasionally single ladies came to the church. But after seeing the overabundance of men in the singles group, they quickly moved on to another church. Or one would visit our singles bible study during the week and that made for a really weird dynamic. Pastor John kept saying to us, “Be patient, be godly, and she will come.” And sure enough, one by one, almost all of those original men got married…almost… :)

What were some things that were blessings in the early years?

Same thing, it was just men in the singles group. When you have a church that small in the beginning, and a small group of men that dedicated to learning God’s Word, and all a part of something we started together, you can’t help but have a strong brotherhood.

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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